In commercial real estate brokerage, your cold calling systems should be coordinated to a plan and a process. Over time you can then improve your actions as the plan requires.
Cold calling is a very specific process of agent actions tracked to results; monitor the things that you are doing and watch what is working for you. When you know that your telephone calls are getting meeting conversions, then you improve them further; if meetings are hard to achieve then skill enhancement is required.
What systems do you have?
So what are the key factors to help you in coordinating and improving your prospecting model and cold call activities? Try some of these:
- Why should someone listen to you? – There has to be a central message to your call process. Have a basic strategy to the call that is useful to the person you are calling. Don’t make calls based on your needs, but focus on them; talk about the other person’s property and how something you are offering will be of use. That could be a special report, perhaps an update on recent sales or leasing’s, or even a chart of property market trends that you can send them.
- Don’t push the other person – Too many agents push a conversation in cold calling. That generally doesn’t work. Polite professional telephone conversations get more results over time. The important thing is that you have something of relevance to talk about.
- Understand your ratios with call conversations and outbound prospecting – When you track your numbers you can see what outcomes you are getting, and if they are fruitful. Whilst everyone will have a different set of numbers to work at over time, those numbers should be improving; that is why you should be making regular cold calls and watching the ratios.
- Create a pipeline of contact – When you connect with a person across the telephone in a positive way, they should then advance up the pipeline of marketing and ongoing contact. Over a period of time you then connect with ever more people in a positive and relevant way.
You can take these simple strategies and merge them into your prospecting and cold calling model. Understand why someone should listen to you and provide relevance around that fact. Grow your skills in cold calling so that your results improve and grow over time. I go back to the point that you should track your ratios.
In commercial real estate brokerage you will hear many people refer to the opportunities gained with attending networking events. Certainly that is the case.
So what are the best networking events that could you attend in your town or city? Here are some ideas to help you:
- Get involved with the local franchise council so that you connect work with franchise groups, franchisors, and franchisees. They may have potential needs when it comes to property relocation, or leasing.
- Solicitors and accountants are good sources of new business opportunity over time. Most of these successful professional people have plenty of clients with property challenges and needs. That being said, these solicitors and the accountants need to trust you and know your relevance as a top agent in the local area. Relationships take time to build with these people but they can be very rewarding over the longer term.
- The local property council or industry group will have networking events on a regular basis. That being said, just about every one of your competitors will be at the same event passing out business cards. All the more reason for you to be present and active on the day.
- Get involved with the local municipal council and know the relative councillors, mayor, and planning officers. They can tell you a lot about the local area when it comes to property changes and future activities.
- The local small business community will have meetings and gatherings from time to time. Understand the role that you can play as a local property specialist and how you can provide quality information to that small business community. On a regular basis you can speak to them about property trends, prices, and rentals. Small business owners invariably need a property to operate from as part of the business function. They may also need knowledge and information relating to property purchase and leasing alternatives at a local level.
So the networking process is quite useful and is part of a strategic process for brokers and agents.
Take your local property knowledge and information to every networking event and opportunity. Share information regards recent sales and leasing activity so that others may benefit from the trends of the market. Soon you will see that others will come to you for help and guidance.
The commercial property market is a challenge at the best of times. There are plenty of things to do when it comes to commercial brokerage and agency. Each and every day a certain number of hours should be devoted to the prospecting process. That activity will be at a personal level for any agent or broker.
It stands to reason that a good broker will have a successful prospecting model to encourage new clients and listings in a regular way. The earlier that agents and brokers move towards this planning process and its implementation, the faster they move up the ranks of the market with listings and commissions.
Here are some tips to help you with the prospecting process that should be applied to office, industrial, or retail property. Given your local market conditions, you can add to the list as appropriate:
- Understand the activities of the market over the last two or three years. As the market been attracting activity or has it been contracting? It is best to work within a market that has growth and opportunity. It is best to work with property types that have a future.
- Many brokerages employ agents on the assumption that the agents will bring in the required new sales and leasing business. Certainly that is the case to a degree; it should however be observed that a good real estate brokerage will have generic marketing strategies and material to help the agents with their daily prospecting activities. An agent or a broker with little or no support from their principal will struggle.
- It is critical that a broker or an agent get signboards into their territory as soon as possible. Those signboards should be on exclusive listings. Signboard presence will always help local market profile and encourage inbound telephone calls. On that basis you can build your database.
- The Internet today offers significant opportunity when it comes to business profile and property marketing. Every brokerage or agency should have a substantial business website to promote sales and leasing listings. The brokerage should always be updating the website with the latest technology tools to capture inbound enquiries. A database portal is part of that process.
- Set aside 2 hours per day to contact new people through the local area. The easiest way to do that is through a consistent and professional cold calling process. When you have connected with a number of people across the telephone, you can move out into the marketplace and door knock a number of businesses and property owners. Personal contact in our market today is really important.
- Every new property listing will give you an opportunity to talk to many other property owners and businesses in the same location. Every successful transaction will give you further reasons to connect with the market place. Use your existing listings and exclusive listings to connect with the property market.
In looking at these activities, it is easy to see that the involvement of the agent or broker at a personal level is critical. Momentum is required every day to establish a good prospecting model to convert more listings and commissions.
In commercial real estate brokerage you need a good database. When I say ‘good’ I am not referring to the complexity or brand of database. What I am referring to is that of the accuracy and volume of data that you have collected.
There is no point running a database unless you keep the information up to date and accurate. So many brokers struggle with that requirement. You may have heard the saying, ‘rubbish in and rubbish out’? That rule certainly applies in this case. Keep your contact information up to date and accurate.
If you want to dominate your market, then you will need to contact plenty of new people each day. If you prospect for 3 hours per working day (the recommended average), then half of that time should be devoted to new contacts, and the other half of the time should be devoted to current contacts. Over time the pipeline of contact that you establish will help you with sales and leasing opportunities.
Over time your prospects and clients will be contacted many times; that is how you build market share and opportunities. On that basis your customer contact system has to be flexible and accurate. It also requires the personal involvement and accuracy of the agent or broker.
Here are some rules to help you with your prospecting and client contact systems:
- Split your prospecting time 50/50 between current contacts and new people. That is how you will build new business.
- Focus on the process of ongoing contact. That will mean telephone calls and emails to the people that you know in an ongoing way. Record the results of your last points of contact so you can refer to earlier client situations and discussions.
- Get email addresses and the consent of the people that you are talking to about ongoing contact through email. You can then set up an ‘auto responder’ for that process. Not only is it economical, but also very convenient. It will save you a lot of time.
- Build ‘trust’ over time with your clients and prospects by providing valuable local market information. You can do that with listing sheets and sale or leasing updates.
- The ideal contact frequency to use with all of your clients and prospects will be your choice, however it has been proven that you will need to make valuable personal contact (telephone or meeting) at least once every 90 days.
So there are some key things to do here. Establish your prospecting system efficiently so you can get results in your market and with the property owners or business proprietors that really do need your service.
In commercial real estate agency it is wise to plan your prospecting efforts and actions. On an average working day many different things will put pressure on your prospecting. Unfortunately many agents will drop the prospecting activity for the slightest reason. Over time that single choice will have a major impact on the way they grow their business and market share.
So you have some choices here:
- You can grow your real estate business and market share through directed effort each day on a client, property, and street by street basis, or
- You can randomly make calls and contacts if and when time permits.
The comfort zone is a big challenge for many agents and it will slow their listing chances and commissions given half a chance. When time gets tough, keep prospecting and stick to your plan.
To solve all of these issues it is best to have the prospecting plan that gets you in front of more property investors and business owners. It has to be specific and relevant to your property market and sales or leasing territory.
Not everyone that you talk to will want to do business with you or even discuss property issues; that is quite OK as you really should not waste you valuable time on people that do not have a need or and interest. Talk to more people and build your skill in doing so. Over time that one single fact will help you in so many ways to become a top real estate agent.
Many new brokers and agents to the industry struggle with finding clients and prospects to talk to as part of prospecting. The soon know that growing market share and commissions depends on one thing only and that is prospecting; when they get focused on it they also soon know that prospecting is a complex and dedicated process.
Here is a prospecting plan for you. Expect it to be a challenge to your diary and daily activities.
- Get to know the streets and businesses in your primary sales and leasing territory. On a street by street basis, identify the property owners and the businesses in occupancy. Talk to both. Find out what they are doing in property now and in the future.
- Review the other listings in the area that are listed with other agents. Use those listings as reasons to talk to other property owners and businesses in the same street and general location.
- Check out the old sale records for your region. Find those property owners that purchased property about 3 or 4 years ago. On average those property owners are going to be the next to come back into the market in some form or another. Connect with them for that process.
- Every property listing that you have on your books will be an excuse to talk to other businesses and investors. Use your quality listings in this way. Over time your current listings will give you more leads and information to act on.
- Walk the streets in your property precinct. You will find and see information that you can work with. Take plenty of business cards with you to leave at the reception desks, and with the business owners that you see or drop into.
- Use the telephone to make plenty of cold and warm calls to your market and business owners. Track your progress and your calls with a good database.
Prospecting in commercial real estate does not need to be hard but it does need to be systemised. In that way you can steadily improve your market share.
You can get more commercial real estate training tips in our Newsletter right here.
In commercial real estate it is easy to spend too much time with current clients or prospects, and little time in finding new ones. When this happens your leads and listings tend to slow and will eventually stall. For this reason you must have some systems on the go that will help you find more new clients.
There are always new people to connect with in our industry. The ways to tap into them are simple and yet systemised. Here are some tips to help you with that ‘client growth’ requirement:
- Look for pressure points within the market. Some property owners will be experiencing tenant changes, higher vacancies, renovation pressures, and financial changes. The list goes on and will change during the year. Look for the clients that need help in adjusting to prevailing market conditions.
- Track the other real estate agent boards for both sales and leasing. When they put a new board up on a property, you should contact the owners around it and in the same general area. There is likely to be another property owner nearby that would like to compete with the existing listing. You can help them with that ‘competition’.
- Do a street by street canvass through your territory. Meet the business owners and track down the property owners. This does take an organised process but the rewards are many when you stay fixed to a system of contact.
- List quality properties as a general rule. The quality properties will give you better rates of enquiry from buyers and tenants. When you control the listings you control the enquiry.
- Offer special marketing solutions that are unique and relevant. These marketing solutions will help you when it comes to presenting and pitching your services.
- Build a database of relevance. It is very hard for a client to ignore your database if it is strong and large. Use your database as leverage in your presentation to the client. Show the client the size of the database and give them an indicative ‘short list’ of potential people you would like to quote their property to when the listing is signed.
- Referral business will be available when you connect with the clients and contacts that you have served well in sales and leasing.
- Ask for property management business from those clients, buyers, and landlords that are involved with sales and leasing activity. A great sales or leasing outcome is a reason to quote your property management services.
There are always new ways to get clients. Some will work for you and others will not. Decide what you can do in that regard and adopt a daily process to build your database of clients.
If someone tells you that ‘cold calling is dead’ in commercial real estate they are misleading you. They are ignoring the real evidence of the market. Making regular prospecting cold calls is a key part of the business for any commercial real estate agent. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
So why do other people come up with this great prediction and revelation on the ‘dead nature’ of cold call prospecting? They are selling a product and they are simply playing to the rejection factors and call reluctance problems that many salespeople struggle with.
Don’t make the mistake of ‘taking the easy way out’ when it comes to prospecting. It is a fact that calling new and fresh people in your property market each day will help you build your listing market share faster than anything else. There are lots of people to call so the process has to occur if you want to succeed as an agent.
Top agents know that they have to make the calls and that is a fact of the market. Here are some proven call strategies to help you get your prospecting systems underway:
- Most agents will not be making lots of cold calls every day and each week, so on that basis you can have a distinct prospecting advantage when you get the process under control.
- The best times to make the calls are in the morning first up and later in the afternoon. You will connect with more business owners and tenants at those times.
- Approach the process on the basis of seeing if the person you call has a need or an interest in local commercial and retail property. If you research your market beforehand you can work your calls from a base of local business owners and operators. That will quickly lead to other local property information and leads.
- Use a database that is flexible and convenient. If you are going to make lots of calls you really must track your results. From the outbound calls understand your contact ratios and conversions to meetings. From 30 calls and 15 connections made you should get 2 meetings of consequence. That can be a daily process. How long does it take you to make the calls? About 2 hours. On that basis you must be prepared beforehand.
- The cycle of commercial real estate activity for many clients and business owners can be quite long (months and years). On that basis you should keep in ongoing call contact every 90 days.
The next time you hear someone say that ‘cold calling is dead’, laugh at them and make more calls. Your market share will be far bigger than theirs in commercial real estate as you make the calls and keep the process going.
A good client in commercial real estate can be a massive opportunity in commissions and repeat business over time. Finding the good clients to work with can take time, but the process is necessary and should be done on an individual basis by all agents.
The agents that struggle in any commercial property market are invariably those that do not do enough prospecting on a daily basis and therefore do not have a good source of clients and contacts. It is a simple equation but it does require personal effort.
When you know what a client can do for you, the process of ongoing contact becomes a logical process. Here are some ideas to help you:
- A prospect may not be a client today, but they may certainly have all the attributes of a good client in the future. Comprehensively cover all the possibilities in sales, leasing, and property management. Be prepared to talk across all disciplines. A leasing opportunity today can be a sale or a property management appointment tomorrow or in the future.
- Some property developers and property owners have a number of properties across their portfolio so investment needs can be quite diverse. When they own more than one property, the challenge of keeping up with rents, vacancies, rent reviews, new tenants, and options can be daunting. Market your services to their broader property requirements and challenges.
- When you consider a property with multiple tenants or available premises, the tenant mix analysis and strategy can be quite special. The facts are very apparent with retail property and shopping centre performance. If you provide property leasing services, take the time to understand the strategies behind tenant placement, leasing and clustering. Any tenant that you choose for a property should be well selected given the requirements of income, profile, permitted use, compatibility to the property and the other tenants; consider the long term occupancy potential. Your leasing services should be quite special taking into account these unique factors. Show the client some real reasons as to why you are a top leasing agent.
- A good client will have certain future property needs and targets. On that basis you can seek to satisfy those requirements with some planned ‘off market’ transactions and targeted solutions. Help the client with where they want to head with the right property types and income growth. Remove the pressure from the client’s investment strategy. Show the client what they need to do to stay ahead of the market today and in the future.
Seek to understand your property clients in all respects. A good client relationship may take months to nurture. Trust and respect has to be there before the larger clients will work with you.
In commercial real estate agency today there are too many ‘myths and rumours’ around generated by agents that are the ‘poor performers’. They are usually the agents that are looking for excuses for their inaction or poor outcomes in listings or commissions. The market is the market, and we cannot change that; we can however take the right action to suit the situation.
Today’s commercial property market is something that requires understanding and adjustment certainly, but good commissions can be had by active and professional commercial real estate agents. You need to know what to look for and how to tap into it. Action it then required.
So what is it about all those ‘myths’ that we keep hearing about? I guess you would have heard some of these comments from your fellow salespeople and competing agents:
- There are no buyers around to purchase
- The client will not listen
- Tenants don’t want to move
- Property listings are hard to get
- There is no enquiry coming in from advertising
- The client wants too much money
- Other agents are taking my listings
- Business is slow
- It’s time to take a holiday
The property market changes and on that basis we need to change. Every year there will be challenges with prices, rents, enquiry, listings, and clients. The fact of the matter is that poor agents without a good database of clients and prospects to talk to will struggle.
Those agents that have continually built a great group of contacts will always have fresh business. Certainly client conditioning will be required as the market changes condition, but today is an ‘agent’s market’ and on that basis we need to act.
Find those good listings and tap into them. Quality listings will always create better enquiries in any market. If you are not getting enquiries coming in, then take a look at your listings. If you have poor listings then have a look at your prospecting efforts. Everything is linked.
It is a fact that top agents attract the business in all markets. The quality listings will go to them most of the time. So how did they reach this level of success and listing attraction? They did the ‘hard work’ with prospecting and connecting with fresh people that are interested in commercial real estate.
The property cycle in commercial real estate is quite long. It takes months if not years for some clients to act on a property issue. This then suggests that you need to be building the right client relationships from the very start and keep the ‘door of contact’ open with the prospect. That’s how you become a top agent. Work hard and the business will come. Forget about those ‘myths’ that low quality agents like to circulate to support their inadequacies. Make your mark on the commercial property market.
As an agent in commercial and retail property, you need to understand your local property market comprehensively and fully. In achieving this level of focus, you will find opportunities for leasing, sales, and property management.
The commercial property market is largely based on relationships. When you get to know a lot of people locally, the listings and opportunities start to evolve. That being said, these clients and prospects do need to trust you as the top agent of choice in the local area.
Here are some tips to help you get to know your local property market at the appropriate level.
- You will need to maintain a database of contact information. This is not something you should delegate to another person in the office. The fact of the matter is that the database is your foundation of business and goodwill. When you take personal ownership of your database, the information becomes more meaningful and relevant. On a daily basis you should be frequently moving in and out of your database to make calls and capture information. This then says that you will require the necessary computer information and computer hardware to do the job correctly.
- Split your area into zones of priority. Some of those areas will be very active and desirable from a business and client perspective. Review those areas so that you can understand and quote the levels of activity to the right people when you are presenting or pitching your services.
- Your property precinct, suburb, town, or city will have a property history that is real and relevant to your activities today. You should identify the types of sales, types of leases, time on market, levels of enquiry, and region demographics. That information should be relative to the last five years and be particularly accurate over the last two years. These figures will show you trends of opportunity and change. Top agents seize the opportunity and move their market focus as required.
- Get copies of the local development plans as they apply to commercial and retail property. Understand the differences between the property zonings and the property locations. A property location or zoning can have significant impact on the listing and marketing of any property.
- The supply and demand for commercial and retail property will change throughout the year. An oversupply of space will saturate the market with excessive vacancies and empty properties. You can stay ahead of this change by monitoring the new property developments that are being considered at the local council or municipality. Whilst a new property developments are an opportunity for listings and fees, they can also skew the market when it comes to pricing, rentals, and incentives.
- Check all the listings locally that are held with other agents and with private owners. Over time some of those listings will be an opportunity for change and perhaps listing with your agency. Whilst they remain available for sale or for lease today, they will give you an indication of what prices and rentals are doing.
- Network into your area on a daily basis. This means making the necessary cold calls and dropping into local businesses on a daily basis. Through this personal contact you will generate opportunity and fresh listings. Top agents are very visible to the local community of business owners and property investors.
You can’t win many listings by sitting at your desk. Desk time is actually downtime. You should only be sitting at your desk to make the necessary cold calls or to have meetings with the right people. Every other part of the day should be outside of the office meeting with people and checking on properties.